Fox’s new comedy The Grinder tells the story of two brothers. Stewart Sanderson (The Wonder Years‘s Fred Savage) is a nervous lawyer who knows his stuff but has trouble vocalizing his arguments properly. Fred Savage has spent years primarily working as a director on shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Garfunkel and Oates, but he absolutely shines on screen as well. Savage’s performance definitely carried this show and Stewart is a strong protagonist. Dean Sanderson (Parks and Recreation‘s Rob Lowe) has spent years playing a lawyer on TV and believes he can now become a real lawyer.
The dynamic with one brother being a knowledgeable lawyer who has trouble with presentation and one being a charming performer works very well. There’s tension between the two, but at the same time you understand why they need each other. Immediately the show has set up a solid working formula.
Dean interfering with Stewart’s family life also worked well and you can see the potential for solid b-stories from here on out. So far, the kids don’t stand out as funny on their own like the kids in Modern Family or Trophy Wife, but they played off the adult actors well enough. The dynamic of Stewart’s wife Debbie (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Mary Elizabeth Ellis) being Dean’s high school girlfriend is also fun.
The pilot lacked big laughs, but definitely has potential. I loved seeing Eastbound & Down‘s Steve Little and Silicon Valley‘s Kumail Nanjiani shine in small roles. They don’t seem to be in the main cast as of yet, but I’m crossing my fingers that they recur.
On a personal note, writers Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul also wrote Allen Gregory and it tickles me that they re-used the name Joel Zadak for the most popular boy at elementary school.